30 Mar 2007

Commonwealth secretariat may send human rights official to Fiji

7:36 am on 30 March 2007

The Commonwealth secretariat is to send its top human rights official to Fiji next month as it encourages more dialogue with the interim government.

The secretary-general Don McKinnon says it is time to re-engage with Fiji and talk with the military regime about the need for change.

He says he began this process by sending two Commonwealth officials to Fiji recently and they were given good access to officials, civil society and church groups.

Mr McKinnon says the next move is to have Rabab Fatima, the head of the Commonwealth's human rights unit, visit Fiji.

"Just her going there will be a good message that we remain engaged. So, you know, we see this as a process that ultimately builds up to useful dialogue. It may be that currently these are just conversations passing each other, but you have got to start somewhere."